Community road shows to start later in March

Canterbury is set to celebrate the role of farming families.

Rural Women New Zealand will host a series of road shows during March and April to mark the United Nations International Year of the Farming Family, beginning in North Otago on Thursday, March 27.

Marketing manager Kiera Jacobson said the road shows were ''about celebrating the family farming'' and looking to the future. Other Canterbury road shows will be held at Rangiora on Friday, March 28 and Ashburton on Saturday, March 29.

''Family farms are the backbone of our rural communities, built up over a century and a-half. And family farms are just as important to the economy now as ever.

''Every family needs a farmer and every farmer needs a community.''

Ms Jacobson said the year's goals focused on sustainability, food security, the eradication of hunger and malnutrition and helping people step up out of poverty.

''We're also recognising the importance of family farms worldwide, with over two billion of the world's human beings depending on family farms for their survival.''

Ms Jacobson said the road shows would offer something for everyone, with entertainment from New Zealand performers the Bitches' Box and Mel Parsons.

Participants could try their hand at local farming processes and browse marketplace stalls featuring local produce, crafts and displays. Seminars would be on topics such as succession planning, on-farm safety, investing in your farming future, farm governance, sustainability, farmer's mental health, animal health and family violence.

Award-winning Marlborough farmer Doug Avery will share his experiences and ''get the conversation going'', Ms Jacobson said. ''There is some self-learning with some very hard issues.

''Each local community will have their own focus on what the future might look like for them,'' she said.

While the details of the Rangiora and North Otago road shows were yet to be finalised, Ms Jacobson said the Ashburton event would feature cheese and butter making and sheep shearing. She said while the initial events were being centred around rural communities, there were plans to promote the farming family in the cities later in the year.

For more information go to: www.ruralwomen.org.nz

- David Hill.